Ice anglers and snowmobilers are spending more and more time on the same waterways. That's prompting Minnesota conservation officers to remind anglers that fish houses or dark houses must display 2 square inches of reflector-type material on each side when left on the ice overnight.
"Ice fishing and snowmobiling are among the most popular Minnesota winter activities, but safety precautions are important given the close proximity in which they both operate," said DNR chief conservation officer Mike Hamm. "The reflector-type material is intended as a safety measure to reduce snowmobile near misses with shelters."
Hamm says 2 square inch reflectors and other such materials are very affordable and available at most hardware stores. "They're a simple, but very effective safety measure that can save lives."
Hamm also urged snowmobilers to be aware of objects such as fish houses, trees, fences, stumps, rocks, logs, and culverts. Often these objects are partially or completely hidden by snow. "If you are not alert, you may hit one of these before you ever see it, so drive at a speed which will allow you to stop quickly," Hamm said.
The following regulations apply to fish houses, dark houses, and portable shelters used on all Minnesota waters, unless noted in the 2003 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Handbook.
" All shelters, which include dark houses, fish houses, and portable shelters, placed on the ice of Minnesota waters must have the complete name and complete address or driver's license number of the owner or MDNR number that's issued to the individual through the ELS system plainly and legibly displayed in readily visible locations on the outside in letters and figures at least 2 inches in height. Dark houses, fish houses, and portable shelters placed on the ice for shelter while fishing must be licensed, except that a license is not required on border waters with Wisconsin, Iowa, and South Dakota.
" Dark houses, fish houses, and portable shelters must have a door that can be opened from the outside at any time when in use.
" No person may erect a dark house, fish house, or shelter within 10 feet of an existing dark house, fish house, or shelter.
" Portable dark houses, fish houses, and shelters may be used for fishing within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), but must be removed from the ice each night. The structure must be removed from the BWCAW each time the occupant leaves the BWCAW.
Winter can be lots of fun, but unfortunately, there are some associated potential dangers, Hamm noted. "Precautions, such as using reflective materials on fishing shelters or snowmobilers paying extra attention to objects in their path, improve safety for everyone. By following a few tips you can be safe and enjoy the many winter activities in our great outdoors."